Words + Photos by Antonio Hernandez.
I became an instant fan of Sir E.U after seeing him perform in the basement of a house near the University of Maryland. There, experimental-funk band Box Era hosted “Boxapalooza,” featuring performances from hungry artists including Silver Spring native Why Fi, as well as Riverdale’s 20NVR crew.
Beginning at the makeshift stage, Sir E.U took advantage of the space, ultimately making his way into the crowd, and back again. Though I had heard some songs from him and his crew – the Kool Klux Klan — I had never delved deep into their catalogue. Offerings from E.U, as well as CRASHprez, Cal Rips, rMell, Avionandramida (who unfortunately passed in 2012), and many others, remind me of a new-age Native Tongues, with a discography that outpaces other collectives who have been around twice as long, and have had half as many members.
The most memorable part of the night was when he performed, “Nikeboy,” the perfect merger of his nonchalant charisma and lyricism, with a beat that’s patchwork of hip-hop, jazz and electronic sounds. During the song, E.U made his way near the DJ and leaned up agains the wall, briefly turning his back to the crowd. Though he finished the remainder song, it made me curious as to why the song evoked such a distinct reaction from the emcee.
After the show, I connected with him on Twitter after getting more familiar with his music, and agreed to an interview at Llamadon’s “Sweg” show, where we was also joined by other emerging artists from Baltimore and D.C. including Greydolf and Nappy Nappa.
Sir E.U discusses coming of age, why he thinks about his song “Nikeboy” differently now, and his key to prosperity.
Q: How did you get in touch with Box Era and get on the set for the Boxapalooza show?
SIR E.U: I’m good friends with Why Fi, and we had been working with each other and knocked out a bunch of songs, and I was just going to rap on his set. I just spoke up and asked if I could open, and they gave me the opportunity to get a set to keep things live. That was my first night meeting a lot of the people there.
Q: You performed “Nikeboy” there, and at one point you started in the crowd and went over by the DJ and just had your arm on the wall, leaning on it, and your back was turned to the crowd. What was going through your head?
SIR E.U: Say it’s a superpower – it’s fueled by whatever is real to you, whatever is on your mind. With some of the stuff, in a way I was too embarrassed to just be in people’s faces with it. Some of the stuff wouldn’t be the thing I would want to highlight the most. I have to make that sound because that’s how the song goes. It’s how I feel emotionally about it.
Q: Are you referring to the song, lyrically?
SIR E.U: Yeah lyrically the song. I just act how whatever I’m saying makes me feel.
Q: For “Nikeboy,” describe how you made that song. On the first verse, you go really hard on it, and the second verse, it takes a turn, and it gets more serious, there’s more substance to it.
SIR E.U: What makes you think there’s more substance in the second verse?
Q: In the first verse, “I’m going to terrorize this bitch” or I’m going to do ‘whatever’ to ‘this bitch.’ But in the second verse, there was a more mellow tone and it seems like you got a lot of aggression out on the first verse.
SIR E.U: That’s about right, but I hadn’t really thought about the recording process afterwards. I know I wrote it real fluidly, and that’s definitely how I felt about it. I sounded how I wanted to sound too. Since I’ve performed it, I wish it was less vulgar, less profane.
“A lot of it I was putting out after I started getting more conscious of what I was doing, and how important your influence is”
Q: Is that why for the Madagascar you censored it some?
SIR E.U: Yeah, because a lot of it I was putting out after I started getting more conscious of what I was doing, and how important your influence is. I made a lot of songs in 2013 and 2014, and I had a lot of time to sit on it and review myself, by the time I wanted to put it out. It was kind of lazy censorship, but I still wanted to send that message, so-to-speak.
Q: What happened to help you get to that different consciousness?
SIR E.U: Just growing up and everything; falling in love. Coming of age, understanding who I am. It’s never one point, you know? It’s a constant search.
^ Sir E.U with Why Fi.
Q: Relating to coming of age, did you feel guilty about some of the stuff you said? It didn’t sound like it was directed at women in general, but you want to be more mindful of what you said.
SIR E.U: Exactly, and it just took me having the song itself as a reflection of myself to really see it. I would say that it was the reactions from it, and how it affected things around me.
“It just took me having the song itself as a reflection of myself to really see it”
On the performance side of things – because I performed by album a shitload before I put it out – I’m hearing people memorize it and say “this bitch stupid if she ain’t chose me,” and I’m like there’s some girls in here, and I wasn’t fuckin’ with that. And then I say “…I’ll break a totem pole on your mother and take my black ass to buy paint” and blah, blah, blah, then that’s cool. Then who I’m mad at starts to come out, and that’s immature. I could’ve handled that situation better.
“I don’t know why that shit took me over like that, but I know why because I’m just a Saiyan. I’m supposed to be doing this”
Q: So you did have specific people in mind, but you just did that instead of naming names?
SIR E.U: For real, yeah. The shit is so personal to me that I wouldn’t think about that [besides asking] did I sound like how I did in my head when I thought of this? That’s all I was thinking about it. It was getting ingrained in people’s heads and I’m like yo, I could be saying something else.
It really wears and tears on me too. I guess that’s why I was like that [at Boxapalooza], it was like the Hunchback of Notre Dame to me now like, ‘don’t look at me!’ I gotta put the journey on display. That’s my journey to growing up and life reflection; that’s my path to prosperity.
Sir E.U is like my 3-D simulation of my life. After the song’s over, I see how that worked out, that’s my key, that’s how I learn. I don’t know why that shit took me over like that, but I know why because I’m just a Saiyan. I’m supposed to be doing this.
“We’re growing up more, being conscious of how we affect the world”
Q: What’s the goal of the Kool Klux Klan?
SIR E.U: I’m the founding member along with Avionadramida and mattVISTA. We set a standard for ourselves for lyricism for ourselves, and we just push forward through that. We aim to conquer a lot of genres, it’s just what we love. We’re growing up more, being conscious of how we affect the world. I know it’s subject to ridicule for probably obvious reasons.
Q: Obvious reasons being the name?
SIR E.U: Yeah, the name, and (laughs), America.
Q: Where will you be in 5 days, 5 months and 5 years?
SIR E.U: In five days I will be at work. In five months, I will be at risk of mortal injury – that wound that gets your ass together and gets you out. In five years, I’m going to have a grammy-nominated album. For real, I might be banned from that shit, and I could imagine it too. I’m going to achieve.